Less than two years ago, Vilonia Disaster Recovery Alliance Inc., (VDRA) closed the last case from the April 2011 tornado. I wish I could say on April 28, 2014, we dusted off our trusty file cabinet, cranked up the old copy machine and went to work, but that was gone along with the building where they were located — but none the less, we did get to work.

VDRA is a long-term disaster recovery 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization operating under the guidance of the Vilonia Ministerial Alliance. We partner along with our sister organization, Spirit of Vilonia, that temporarily operates their food bank at the Vilonia Church of the Nazarene until we can both find new homes. Our former home, the old City Hall building, is not expected to be rebuilt, so we are already dreaming about a future location — what it should look like, how big it should be and how we want to use it to represent and serve the community in the future.

We only see a few roadblocks, like funding the planning, funding the location, funding the construction and funding the support, but we know that will all be overcome in due time.

However, even without an office, and just days after the tornado, donations began going to VDRA with the question, "How do you spend this money I am giving you?" Well that is an easy answer. One-hundred percent of donated funds will be used to help meet the needs in this community. Those needs can be simple everyday individual needs or more complex needs that may require more than just dollars to fix. We have no paid staff, no company cars and no personal spending accounts. We have been more than blessed to have our administrative costs, which are bare minimums, covered by another charity organization. So, when we say 100 percent is for spending needs within this community, that is exactly what we mean.

VDRA case management is already working with other case management teams at local and national levels, enabling us to reach far more than we thought possible. Networking our teams in this manner not only helps prevent duplication of services but also builds a diverse group that can meet the needs of those rebuilding — not only in a material sense but also emotionally and spiritually.

This bigger network gives us a place where we can find other sources of funding and gain new ideas and ways of operation to better serve as a long-term recovery organization.

Vilonia is where we live, shop, work and worship. We are invested in this town and excited to see all the possibilities as we share in the mission of rebuilding this community.

We are blessed beyond measure just to have the opportunity to be part of such a grand scale vision. Those needing assistance may contact us at 501-428-9228 or email us at vdracares@gmail.com.